#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER PULITZER PRIZE FINALIST This inspiring, exquisitely observed memoir finds hope and beauty in the face of insurmountable odds as an idealistic young neurosurgeon attempts to answer the question What makes a life worth living?
NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY The New York Times Book Review People NPR The Washington Post Slate Harper's Bazaar Time Out New York Publishers Weekly BookPage
Finalist for the PEN Center USA Literary Award in Creative Nonfiction and the Books for a Better Life Award in Inspirational Memoir
At the age of thirty-six, on the verge of completing a decade's worth of training as a neurosurgeon, Paul Kalanithi was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer. One day he was a doctor treating the dying, and the next he was a patient struggling to live. And just like that, the future he and his wife had imagined evaporated. When Breath Becomes Air chronicles Kalanithi's transformation from a naIve medical student "possessed," as he wrote, "by the question of what, given that all organisms die, makes a virtuous and meaningful life" into a neurosurgeon at Stanford working in the brain, the most critical place for human identity, and finally into a patient and new father confronting his own mortality.
What makes life worth living in the face of death? What do you do when the future, no longer a ladder toward your goals in life, flattens out into a perpetual present? What does it mean to have a child, to nurture a new life as another fades away? These are some of the questions Kalanithi wrestles with in this profoundly moving, exquisitely observed memoir.
Paul Kalanithi died in March 2015, while working on this book, yet his words live on as a guide and a gift to us all. "I began to realize that coming face to face with my own mortality, in a sense, had changed nothing and everything," he wrote. "Seven words from Samuel Beckett began to repeat in my head: 'I can't go on. I'll go on.'" When Breath Becomes Air is an unforgettable, life-affirming reflection on the challenge of facing death and on the relationship between doctor and patient, from a brilliant writer who became both.
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"Narrator Sunil Malhotra is faithful to the straightforward tone of Paul Kalanithi's memoir about facing Stage IV lung cancer at age 36, just as he is finishing his training in neurosurgery. Kalanithi confronts his situation with an unflinching but literary curiosity. Malhotra adeptly delivers the author's confusion over finding himself a confident doctor but a meek patient. He also shares Kalanithi's youthful resistance to becoming a doctor and his contemplations about the meaning of time. What does living one day at a time mean when you don't know how long you have? Kalanithi struggles to find an immediate way forward--should he continue to do surgery, write a book, have a baby? Cassandra Campbell narrates the epilogue by Kalanithi's wife, recounting his final moments in a smooth, empathetic voice that is certain to bring tears. WHEN BREATH BECOMES AIR may be unsentimental, but it is profoundly affecting. A.B. © AudioFile 2016, Portland, Maine"
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